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Re: NFC: aquarium basics site

Sam wrote:
> Wright
> Just went to the page myself and didn't see what you are talking about.
> What misinformation?  Looked pretty straight forward to me and didn't see
> them hawking any products.  

The sales pitch was subtle, but every single subject ended up with something
useless you needed to buy (generic terms, but *all* available at any

I would have to copy so much it would violate their copyright to dissect it
entirely. They were utterly wrong on chloramine and why it is used (it is
not stronger than chlorine), but failed to warn that dechlor products with
hypo can easily kill your fish dead if chloramine is present!

The pH myth was propagated, once again, as was the slime coat story. Osmotic
pressure effects were utterly ignored, again.

The use of nitrates by plants was again overstated. Plants *greatly* prefer
ammonia/ammonium as food, and are wonderful sponges for such. Heavily
planted tanks never "cycle," for example. Nitrates are most difficult for
plants to use (too high oxidation state, hence too chemically stable), so
water changes are still needed.

They would sell you kosher salt, labelled for aquaria, at 100 times the
grocery store price by propagating the "iodine" (iodide) myth. Iodides are
no more harmful than chlorides (as in sodium chloride) and are routinely
used at hundreds of times the concentration in table salt to *cure* fish
thyroid problems. Table salt contains no iodine whatsoever -- it's all there
as the iodide. The silicates in table salt (to make them free-running)
aren't all that good for gills, etc., but not as bad as they point out just
to make another sale.

The temperature range they suggest leads to early fish death in many
"tropicals" hence early need to replace. Most live far longer at 68-70F.
That sells less heaters and thermometers, though, as well as less fish.

> Solutions were mentioned to problems but....
> I'm not a big fan of PS but it is nice to have them available when products
> are needed.  What did I miss?  BTW i've kept fish for a long time as well
> (going on 40 years)
> Sam

I hope these few examples give a flavor of what I was talking about. These
myths are self propagating in the trade, and many LFS clerks are quite
sincere in advocating them, because they see them in places like the
referenced site as "authoritative."

Those folks would be horrified to see me subject very delicate, wild
rainforest killies to pH changes of up to three full points (e.g., 5.5 to
8.5 or vice versa) with absolutely no distress at all. Fish don't feel pH
and changes aren't critical -- they just sell pH kits. I have a pH pen and
could use it a lot. I actually use it about (maybe) once a month. OTOH, my
tds meter gets used several times a week, as osmotic shock is truly harmful
to fish (particularly if tds change is downward by a serious amount). KH/GH
titration test kits are too slow and cumbersome to be that useful, IMHO.

I, too, patronize my local PETsMART. I took a third place in a big show,
last year with a pair of *J. floridae* I bought there. :-) Six months of
conditioning made them really look sharp, and I entered them almost as a
gag. [I did not put a collection location of NewPark Mall, Newark CA on
them, tho. ;-)] I simply do not pay much attention to advice I receive from
the knuckle-draggers they hire as clerks.

That's my perspective, anyway.


Wright Huntley, Fremont CA, USA, 510 494-8679  huntleyone at home dot com

         "DEMOCRACY" is two wolves and a lamb voting on lunch.
     "LIBERTY" is a well-armed lamb denying enforcement of the vote.
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